Co-parenting After Separation – The Do’s and Don’ts
Gwyneth Paltrow made famous the term known as “conscious uncoupling” when she split with her first husband Chris Martin in March 2014. Since then, everywhere from the New York Times to Vogue have told us that conscious uncoupling has permeated break-up culture. The concept of two people coexisting as parents and working together for the benefit of their children, is often a difficult one to grasp, particularly following a heated divorce or breakup.
Divorce and separation should not in itself mean the breakdown of a family unit and of your parenting team. Despite the love being gone or a relationship no longer working, you and your former partner will continue to be co-parents in raising and caring for your children into the future. Team parenting, or co-parenting, is essential for the healthy development of children and assists in making the parenting role less frustrating and overall more rewarding.
So how do separated parents co-parent as a team, post breakdown of the relationship?
From experience, our Specialist Family Lawyers in Sydney have observed 5 fundamental mechanisms to the optimal co-parenting relationship.
- Be flexible and open minded.
- Acknowledge and appreciate the other parent’s beliefs, strengths and the effort they are putting in.
- Communicate and share your views about parenting.
- Don’t attack, but give constructive feedback.
- Set expectations and boundaries together.
It can be challenging to share parenting with an ex following a high-conflict divorce. Emotions are often running sky high – but as adults, it is so important to set those feelings aside for the sake of raising healthy children.
A helpful tip in collaborative parenting is to set up a shared calendar. A number of clients find that by using a joint calendar (or specialised app such as Our Family Wizard). This assists to ensure that both parents are always aware of the children’s school responsibilities, due dates, sporting matches, events and assemblies. A shared calendar helps to keep the lines of communication open as children’s lives and schedules change constantly. This also encourages parents to be flexible when it comes to holidays and special occasions.
If its not too upsetting for you, a great way to encourage your child to continue feeling connected with a non-resident parent is to keep a framed photo of the family or the parent in your child’s bedroom. Being positive about what your child is doing when they are at their other parent’s home, is also crucial to encouraging a positive family dynamic post separation. Encourage your child to send messages and emails to their other parent, and to receive phone calls, picture messages and video calls.
Co-parenting is not always easy, but it is always beneficial to raising happy, healthy children. You and your former partner may be able to sort out a co-parenting plan together – but if you can’t, contact one of our leading family law specialists today to discuss developing a co-parenting plan.
Our specialist family lawyers in Sydney work with separating families everyday to assist in custody disputes, collaborative parenting plans, property settlement and divorce. Our specialist Sydney family lawyers listen, problem solve and focus on resolution.